I first bought Hormel Foods (HRL -1.29%) stock in 2017 when it was yielding around 2%. I recently added a slug more, in late 2021 with the yield at roughly 2%. The yield today is 1.95% and the stock still looks historically attractive.
The only thing is that all through this period the shares have looked fairly expensive by traditional valuation metrics. Here are four reasons I'm happy buying more (via dividend reinvestment every quarter on top of my second direct acquisition) and why you might want to step on board as well.
1. A good value
Hormel's price-to-earnings ratio is a hefty 32 times right now, and price-to-sales is roughly 2.4 times. Price-to-cash flow is nearly 25 times. And price-to-book value is about 4.1 times.
All of these measures are above the company's five-year averages. The thing is, this food maker has long been valued like a growth stock and has seemed expensive for years. But its dividend yield, which is around 1.95% today, is at the high end of Hormel's historical yield range.
That suggests that it is relatively cheap, regardless of what more traditional metrics suggest. In fact, despite having bought the stock at a 2% yield around five years ago and again late last year, I'm up on my investment. That's because the stock price has increased along with dividend increases to keep the yield at around 2%. Since there's no reason to suspect that dividend growth is about to stop, the current yield should probably be seen as an investment opportunity for dividend growth types.
2. A good business
I also keep buying Hormel because it is a leader in the protein space. Hormel isn't the only food stock I own, but it is the only one with this unique focus and, thus, it can dovetail nicely with other companies in the same space.
Included in that protein focus, meanwhile, is a collection of industry-leading brands like SPAM, Columbus, Planters, and Skippy, among many more. In reality, Hormel is probably best viewed as a brand manager with leading names throughout the grocery store.
On top of that, Hormel also has a direct-selling relationship with out-of-home eating establishments, like restaurants and schools. It is also working to broaden its reach in the convenience store channel (augmented via the recent Planters buy) and in international markets. So you can also add the benefit of diversification to a strong portfolio of leading brands.
3. A solid financial position
Hormel's debt-to-equity ratio is currently around 0.5 times. That's actually pretty high for Hormel, thanks to the aforementioned Planters acquisition. But when you compare it to other food stocks, it's actually fairly modest. And if history is any guide, management will look to trim that down some as it works to incorporate Planters into the business.
Sitting at the low end of the peer group is pretty normal here, and it provides the company with the flexibility to deal with adversity. Conservative types should appreciate that quality.
4. An owner aligned with me
Another interesting thing about Hormel is that The Hormel Foundation has a 48% stake in the company. This charitable trust was created with the express purposes of helping the local community and ensuring that Hormel remains an independent entity. So I know that Hormel has a long-term investor that wants to see the company keep growing over time.
But, just as important, The Hormel Foundation uses the dividends it receives from Hormel to fund its charitable efforts. I want to see the company and its dividends both grow over time, too.
A lot to love
I could get into a more detail here, but this quick overview summarizes the key points. Hormel is a relatively cheap stock (based on its historical yield range) backed by a financially strong food company with a collection of iconic brands. And its biggest shareholder wants the exact same things as I do. No wonder the company has been able to increase its dividend every single year for more than five decades. If you don't own Hormel, the current 1.95% yield is still a pretty enticing entry point.